The U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday it reached a tentative settlement in Los Angeles of its civil forfeiture cases against more than $700 million in assets acquired by fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho and allegedly stolen from the state-owned 1MDB investment fund.
With the conclusion of the settlement, together with the prior disposition of other related forfeiture cases, the United States will have recovered or assisted in the recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with the 1MDB international money laundering and bribery scheme, according to the DOJ.
It’s the largest recovery to date under the DOJ’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative and the largest civil forfeiture ever concluded by the Justice Department, prosecutors said. The filing of civil forfeiture complaints in Los Angeles federal court were first announced in 2016.
As alleged in the complaints, Jho Low and others engaged in a brazen multi-year conspiracy to launder stolen money traceable to 1MDB that funded a lavish lifestyle, according to the DOJ.
“A staggering amount of money embezzled from 1MDB at the expense of the people of Malaysia was laundered through the purchase of big-ticket assets in the U.S. and other nations,” said U.S. Attorney Nicola T. Hanna of the Central District of California.
“Thanks to this settlement, one of the men allegedly at the center of this massive scheme will lose all access to hundreds of millions of dollars. The message in this case is simple: the United States is not a safe haven for pilfered funds. Our strict anti-money laundering controls are effective, and we will seize assets used by criminals to conceal ill-gotten gains.”
The settlement will involve the recovery of funds from the sale of properties in Los Angeles, London and New York, among other assets, prosecutors said.